Hurricane Barrel slammed into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as the threat to Texas grew

Beryl made landfall Friday morning near Cozumel, Mexico, as a Category 2 hurricane, lashing the coast and knocking out power in several resort and vacation towns. Downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon, it is forecast to continue weakening until it emerges over the Gulf of Mexico late Friday.

Concerns are growing in Texas, where the National Hurricane Center is now predicting a storm to arrive between Sunday and Monday night. By then, Beryl will likely have regained hurricane status and will continue to intensify as it moves ashore.

“The risk of hurricane-force winds and deadly storm surge is increasing for northeastern Mexico and parts of the lower and central Texas coast late Sunday and Monday,” the hurricane center wrote Friday.

Computer model simulations run Friday show the area just north of Corpus Christi as a particular area of ​​concern, although changes in the barrel's predicted track — either north or south — are possible. Also, the effects of a hurricane can be hundreds of miles away from the center of the storm.

At 5 p.m. Friday, the hurricane center issued hurricane and storm surge watches from north of the Texas-Mexico border to Sargent, Tex., about 60 miles southwest of Galveston. The watch area includes South Padre Island, Corpus Christi, Rockport and Matagorda.

Beryl made landfall around 6 a.m. just north of the coastal town of Tulum, Mexico, with winds of up to 100 mph, whipping palm trees and pelting communities with rain. There were widespread blackouts, but no casualties, according to Laura Velazquez, National Coordinator for Civil Protection.

Speaking from the region, he told reporters at President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's morning news conference that about half of Tulum and another tourist destination, Isla Mujeres, were without power. Power was also cut off in several neighborhoods on the island of Cozumel.

Velazquez said strong winds knocked down trees and some power poles, but no one was killed or seriously injured. Authorities rescued several people from flooded homes.

Cancun's international airport has canceled about 300 flights, while Tulum's airport is not scheduled to reopen until Sunday.

Officials urged residents and tourists to stay indoors due to downed power lines and trees.

Gov. Mara Lizama, citing hotel association reports, said the storm did not cause significant erosion of the region's famous white-sand beaches. The cyclone did not cause major damage to five-star hotels, but damaged the homes of poor residents of coastal communities. On TikTok, people described how wind ripped roof panels from modest homes.

“The winds were strong last night, and we lost power,” said a man who identified himself as John in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun. “In the morning, the roof panels flew off our neighbors house in front of us [car] The alarm hasn't stopped ringing.”

Leslie Diaz posted a video on TikTok from Playa del Carmen shortly before the hurricane hit. Her dog was cowering under the blankets of the bed.

“It's about 5 in the morning and there's a terrible rumbling,” he said, as the winds whistled in the background. “It hasn't touched the ground yet, but it's already very strong.”

The region is prone to hurricanes. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma caused eight deaths and billions of dollars in damage. So Mexican officials took extra precautions this time, sending about 10,000 Army, Navy and National Guard troops to help victims and patrolling rain-slicked streets.

By 5 p.m. ET, the barrel's center was about to exit the Yucatán Peninsula, or over Brownsville, Tex. about 610 miles east-southeast of, while sweeping west-northwest at 15 mph. Maximum winds were reduced to 65 mph. Weakness is expected until the storm re-enters the ocean.

As the barrel moves west-northwest through the Gulf of Mexico, where water temperatures are in the mid-80s, the hurricane's core is forecast to at least gradually strengthen.

Model replicas vary on how fast and how strong the barrel will be.

Typical models of hurricanes do not project large velocities. But large-scale models from the US and Europe are calling for what the Hurricane Center described as “significant deepening as the barrel approaches the coast”. Abnormally warm water and favorable high-altitude wind patterns can lead to rapid strengthening.

But if the center of the storm is also there, the barrel can be tightly restrained. Disrupted after crossing the Yucatan and unable to rebuild itself.

Another wild card is exactly where the barrel will come ashore. The models project the barrel will run parallel to the coast of Tamaulipas, Mexico and Texas, meaning small dips in the track will have dramatic effects on the final landfall location.

An important influence on the track forecast is the dip in the jet stream over the central United States, which will try to pull the barrel northward. But when, and where, this tug takes place remains to be seen. If the barrel is stronger, it is more likely to be pulled north toward the lower and middle Texas coast but, if it is weaker, it will have a better chance of hitting northeastern Mexico. Model predictions along with the storm's evolution on Friday suggest the former is more likely.

In northern Mexico or along the lower and middle Texas coast, now is a good time to start preparing for potential hurricane impacts. Landfall in the Category 1 or 2 range is more likely, but a major, Category 3 hurricane is not entirely impossible if the barrel turns faster than expected. “Those of interest in these areas should closely monitor forecast updates,” the hurricane center wrote.

Brownsville, Tex. The Maine Weather Service office said the area could get 4 to 8 inches of rain depending on the storm's track, which could lead to flooding.

“Along the coast…expect dangerous currents, high surf, storm surges of about 2 to 4 feet, and high shorelines,” he wrote.

Corpus Christi, Tex. The U.S. National Weather Service also urged residents to start preparing, highlighting the current threat of high winds, coastal flooding, strong winds and the possibility of heavy rain.

Beryl became the first hurricane of the 2024 season and became the earliest Category 5 on record in the Atlantic on Monday night. The storm – fueled by record-warm ocean waters – broke benchmarks for its strength and the rate at which it intensified early in the season, surprising meteorologists.

The storm first hit Grenada, St. Vincent and other Caribbean islands on Monday, causing widespread devastation. – mainly on the Grenadine islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique – and killed at least five people. Three more deaths were reported in Venezuela.

On Kyriacou, home to about 7,000 people, the hurricane “caused total devastation all around,” said Alison Keaton, 50, owner of the Paradise Beach Club, a restaurant and bar on Paradise Beach that was destroyed. Many islanders are now living in temporary shelters in schools.

On Wednesday, a storm from Jamaica's south coast produced torrential rains and 80 mph winds that destroyed homes and downed trees and power lines. At least two deaths were reported as of Thursday and about 65 percent of the Jamaica Public Service Company's customers – about 400,000 households – were left without power, the BBC reported.

The storm brought strong winds and heavy rain to the Cayman Islands Wednesday night before moving toward the Yucatan Peninsula.

Gabriela Martinez, Jason Simeno, Amanda Colletta, Kim Bellware, Samantha Schmidt and Anumita Kaur contributed to this report.

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